Q: I invited five moms from my mothers group (call them casual friends) to my beautiful and stylish vacation condo. Before we left, there was the expectation that the guests would pay a cleaning fee to be divided among the five women.
I must admit that I was surprised that nobody offered to pay for my very inexpensive dinner the first night, or bring a bottle of wine. But I smiled and still had fun, as I am fortunate and do like the chance to get away with fun people.
The next day, one guest actually stated that she did not understand why the cleaning fee cost so much (it is high, but within industry standards). She said that she would rather clean on her own.
I told her that the place was perfect when she arrived and I deserved perfection when they left. I pointed out that every surface was gleaming and asked her if she was willing to work hard to get it back to that level. She dropped the subject, but the next day began her complaint process in front of the entire group.
One friend in private also tried to talk about the cleaning fee, and I politely told her that, yes, it seemed expensive, but that this was the price and I did not think it was fair that their “free” stay, which costs me money in heating, water, etc., should mean that I am left with a dirty vacation home.
Please know that I did have a great time with these ladies, but I felt a bit taken for granted.
A: As, Miss Manners feels sure, do they.
You invited your friends to your vacation condo with the expectation that they would pay the cleaning fee. Did they know what that fee would be at the time? Is it reasonable to assume that they did not, and that, in fact, given that you yourself said it was expensive, that it might have been on the lower end of staying in a hotel or vacation rental of their own?
And then for the privilege of paying that, you also expected them to pay for your dinner? And if you went to a restaurant, how much of a mess could they have made?
So how exactly was this vacation free for them? Heating and water costs might be exorbitant, but seem to be literally the least you could provide.
But despite what Miss Manners considers to be minimal generosity on your part — and unmatched outrage — she still finds herself faulting your friends. They probably incorrectly assumed that a cleaning fee would be nominal and agreed to it without asking what it was. Had the particulars of this contract been made clear, Miss Manners feels certain that they would have graciously bowed out and offered to find another space. Or afforded you the opportunity to counter with the genuine generosity of which you now so strangely and proudly boast.
Q: Is it rude to ask someone the significance of their tattoo(s)?
A: Only for ones you cannot see.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.